The Hartley Sentinel-The Everly/Royal News - Serving O'Brien & Clay Counties

By Mike Petersen
Sports Editor & Staff Writer 

Pick 6's set tone for final regular season game

H-M-S rolls to 50-13 win over Akron-Westfield


October 21, 2021


Connor Dodd gets past Akron-Westfield defender Michael Varns for a 60-yard scoring run Friday night at Akron.

Akron-Westfield delivered the first blow, but Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn landed a knockout punch with three touchdowns in the final minute of the first quarter. The Hawks were in control the rest of the way, earning a 50-13 win last Friday at Akron to wrap up the regular season.

The Westerners received the opening kickoff and put together a 13-play drive that lasted over 6-1/2 minutes. Quarterback Cade Walkingstick scored on a 1-yard run.

"They came out in that first series and did a great job," said Hawk coach Jay Eilers. "I thought they were physical. The pads were popping; those don't happen when it's one-sided."

The Hawks answered when Kooper Ebel scored on a 4-yard run. The conversion attempt was no good, so H-M-S trailed 7-6.

That would dramatically change when James Gellerman intercepted a pass and returned the ball 54 yards for a Pick 6. Jordan Ortega intercepted a Westerners' pass on the next play from scrimmage and scored on a 24-yard jaunt to the end zone. Three touchdowns in the final 39.2 seconds of the first quarter put H-M-S in front, 20-7

Eilers felt the defense has matured, resulting in 13 interceptions during the season.

"We have some kids that have been starters since [they were] freshmen, and other kids this is their first year starting," he noted. "Those kids stepped up very well. We feel confident in taking the ball away and we did exactly that."

Overall, H-M-S limited A-W to one first down in the second quarter and only two drives of more than four plays in the second half.

Tackle leaders (total/solo) were Ebel 9.0/7, Travis Kamradt 8.5/7, Lance Berends 5.5/4, Dodd 5.0/4, Keevyn Jacobsma 4.5/3, Keaton Graves 4.0/3, Brenton Thomas and Gellerman 3.5/3; and Mason Brinkman and Landon Elwood 3.0/3.

The Hawks built a 38-7 half time lead on an 11-yard run by Ebel, a 1-yard run by Dodd that was set up by a 40-yard pass to Ryan Borden, and a 50-yard reception by Kamradt.

H-M-S scored twice in the third quarter on a 10-yard run by Ebel and a 60-yard dash by Dodd. They rushed for 58 and 186 yards, respectively.

"Sometimes people may think that's a boring offense but we're very successful and our kids are very explosive with it," Eilers remarked. "But we're going to make sure that we are trying to force people to play us the whole field."

• Next up: vs. Tri-Center, Neola


James Gellerman intercepts a pass in front of Tyson Fairbanks for a Pick 6 that gave H-M-S the lead against Akron-Westfield.

As the Class A District 1 champion, H-M-S (6-2, 6-0) hosts Tri-Center, Neola in the first round of the playoffs this Friday at Peterson Field. The Trojans are 5-3 overall and were fourth in District 8 with a 4-2 record. One of their wins came against District 8 champion Woodbury Central, 26-23 in Week 7.

Tri-Center has a more balanced offense than H-M-S, gaining 1,465 rushing yards and passing for 944. They've scored 30 offensive touchdowns. The Trojans' defense has intercepted seven passes and recovered five fumbles.

After last Friday's game Eilers said the Hawks' focus would be more on themselves than on their first-round playoff matchup.

"The opponent's us; that's going to be our standard week in and week out," he noted. "I've got a feeling we're going to be physical and ready to play football."


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